If there is one company that is loved by its customers, employees and shareholders equally it is Apple!! It is hard to find any other company that generates the excitement that Apple does. The company is valued at almost $600 Billion that is estimated to reach $1 Trillion in too distant future. That amount will be higher than the GDP of many countries on the planet. The amazing thing is even at this size Apple manages to grow its revenue and profit at astronomical rate of 70-80%! There has never been a company in the history that has achieved what Apple has in the last 10 years.
While it may not be possible for small business owners to achieve success at the same level as Apple there are important lessons you can learn that will help you grow your business. Below we analyze Apple’s critical success factors and explain how you can apply them in your business.
- Focus – This is one thing that differentiates Apple from most other companies. They have razor-sharp focus on everything they do and take it to perfection. Any product that comes out from Apple is a master piece! They are able to do this by focusing their resources on few items – there is only one model of iPhone or iPad introduced every year in contrast to 20-30 models introduced by their competitors every year. With limited resources it is equally imperative for small business owners to focus. By applying them on fewer bets you can use them more effectively. We showed how you can do this in earlier post on how to focus your resources by deciding not to pursue all opportunities.
- Must-have Products – The earlier point on focus leads Apple to introduce products that are loved by their customers. Just look at the lines that are formed outside their stores whenever new products are introduced. Because of this they are able to charge premium price for their products and high margins. In the fundamental rules of marketing we explained why great marketing without great products is a waste of money. Apple clearly proves this. Focus first on making great products and customers will follow without much marketing effort.
- Buzz Factor – Apple is known for its secrecy both inside and outside the company. Very few people even within the company know what Apple is planning to introduce in the coming years. Months before the products are introduced the media is buzzed with speculation on what it is going to be. The free publicity that Apple gets as a result is priceless. While small business owners will never be able to match Apple in this area there are things they can do to mimic. They should focus on surprising customers with customer service that goes beyond their expectations. They can also try low-cost marketing tactics that can generate media buzz. Here are some tips on how to generate marketing buzz for your business along with practical tips on generating marketing buzz.
- Succession Planning – When Steve Jobs passed away last year everyone thought the company was doomed. After all, he was considered the man behind everything Apple was doing. However, in the months since his death not only has Apple survived, but thrived. While you may not immediately have to worry about handing your business to someone else you can learn to delegate so that the business continues to run well in your absence leaving you with more free time to focus on important strategic matters.
What other lessons can small businesses learn from Apple? Let us know in the comments below.